After North Korea launched a missile over Japan on Tuesday, the Trump administration’s response has bounced between threats and talks of negotiation. Strained relations between North Korea and the U.S. have reached an all-time high this August and it would seem the tension isn’t about to fade anytime soon.
One of the president’s first moves Wednesday morning in response to North Korea was to tweet that “Talking is not the answer!”
The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2017
This follows a little more than a week after President Trump suggested that the North Korean regime “is starting to respect us,” Bloomberg Politics notes. The president’s tweet this morning would seem to backtrack to a harder stance towards the country, issuing a vague threat in response to North Korea’s own “vague warning about containing U.S. forces on Guam.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was quick to contradict the president’s tough line. When asked specifically over whether or not Trump’s comments mean the U.S. and its allies are no longer interested in negotiating, Mattis answered “No.”
“We’re never out of diplomatic solutions,” Mattis placated reporters at his meeting with Song Young-moo, South Korea’s Defense Minister, at the Pentagon.
In the White House’s official response to Tuesday’s missile test, Trump held a more measured stance than his tweet allows, roundly rebuking North Korea’s actions.
“The world had received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior,” President Trump said. “Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table.”
“All options are on the table.”
This is not the first time White House has taken a tough stance against the Kim regime in North Korea. Trump’s “talking is not the answer comment” is reminiscent of another made in early August after Kim combined a missile test with a threat to the U.S. territory of Guam. After which, Trump said the American military would unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if Kim were to follow through on his threats. A pause in North Korea’s missile tests prompted the administration to pick a different beat. Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested Pyongyang has demonstrated “restraint that we have not seen in the past.” Trump changed his tune as well, announcing at a political rally on Aug. 22 that he saw a change in North Korea’s respect for the U.S.
Breaking: #NorthKorea issues new threat against the US – calling Monday's missile test a "meaningful prelude to containing Guam" -KCNA
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) August 29, 2017
However, the North Korean leader said that Tuesday’s test was a “meaningful prelude” and renewed threats towards Guam. Kim said he will watch the U.S. response before taking any further action. As reported by Bloomberg, a statement released by the official Korean Central News Agency revealed Kim is urging the North Korean military to conduct more missile tests into the Pacific Ocean in the future.
The KCNA said Tuesday’s launch was a demonstration of power in protest of “annual military exercises being held between the U.S. and South Korea,” Bloomberg reports. It was the first missile launched over Japanese airspace since 2016.
North Korea releases photos from the recent Hwasong-12 IRBM launch via KCNA pic.twitter.com/tRdpe9O3Bq
— Missile Defense AA (@MissileDefAdv) August 29, 2017
The latest missile launch has once again rallied together the U.S. and its allies. Tillerson and his Japanese and South Korean counterparts agreed that the launch was “an escalation of North Korean provocations and showcased the dangerous threat posed by North Korea.” The UN Security Council released a statement condemning the launch.